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Most children begin to stay dry at night around three years of age. When a child has a problem with bedwetting (enuresis) after that age, parents may become concerned.
Physicians stress that enuresis is not a disease, but a symptom, and a fairly common one. Occasional accidents may occur, particularly when the child is ill. Here are some facts parents should know about bedwetting:
Persistent bedwetting beyond the age of three or four rarely signals a kidney or bladder problem. Bedwetting may sometimes be related to a sleep disorder. In most cases, it is due to the development of the child’s bladder control being slower than normal. Bedwetting may also be the result of the child’s tensions and emotions that require attention.
Parents should remember that children rarely wet on purpose, and usually feel ashamed about the incident. Rather than make the child feel naughty or ashamed, parents need to encourage the child and express confidence that he or she will soon be able to stay dry at night.
Parents may help children who wet the bed by:
Treatment for bedwetting in children includes behavioral conditioning devices (pad/buzzer) and/or medications. Examples of medications used include anti-diuretic hormone nasal spray and the anti-depressant medication imipramine. In rare instances, the problem of bedwetting cannot be resolved by the parents, the family physician or the pediatrician. Sometimes the child may also show symptoms of emotional problems—such as persistent sadness or irritability, or a change in eating or sleeping habits. In these cases, parents may want to talk with a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who will evaluate physical and emotional problems that may be causing the bedwetting, and will work with the child and parents to resolve these problems.
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